- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Wallace “Pie” Dent said that if anyone saw his wife, Kimberly, a month ago, they wouldn’t have known she had cancer.
“She was so strong,” he said.
Kimberly Ann Stoppa-Dent, 50, was a longtime teacher in the Charles County school system. She died Saturday after a battle with colon cancer.
When Kim Olson describes her friend to those who didn’t meet her, she said, “The first thing I say is she was just a force of nature.”
Olson said that Stoppa-Dent was a take-charge kind of person who had success with anything she was involved with.
Stoppa-Dent was a school teacher for 16 years. She taught social studies at Maurice J. McDonough High School in Pomfret for three years and then moved to Westlake High School in Waldorf, where she taught social studies for 13 years.
In 2008, she was recognized by the Charles County Board of Education as an exemplary employee.
Students who were struggling were the ones Stoppa-Dent targeted and helped get on track, Wallace Dent and Olson said.
Dent said that if a student had issues with a grade or a test, his wife would volunteer her time, even if it was a weekend, to help that student pass the class or test.
“She was an advocate for the underdog,” Dent said.
In addition to teaching, Stoppa-Dent wore many other hats. She served as sponsor of the Waldorf high school’s Future Educators of America organization and Students Against Drunk Driving club. She coached the school’s mock trial and debate teams, and was the head coach of the Westlake cheerleading squad from 1999 to 2012.
“I called her the cheerleading director,” Principal Chrystal Benson said when remembering all the things Stoppa-Dent did for the squad and the school.
Dent said that his wife and the other coaches would stay up late making sure everything was just right for cheerleading competitions for the squad.
When it came to fundraising, Dent said his wife “took fundraising to a whole new level.”
He said that one time, she took charge of fundraising for the Westlake Bulldogs youth football team to go to a championship game. She raised enough money for the entire team to go on the trip, all expenses paid.
Dent said that his wife was always giving.
“She was the type of person who made you feel like you could walk on water,” Dent said. He said that once you made it across the water, she would be the one standing on the other side asking what took so long.
Benson said that Stoppa-Dent was passionate about education.
“She put her all into providing students with good, solid instruction.”
Benson said that her personality didn’t hurt with her success as a teacher.
“She was a person with a great sense of humor, which made her very popular with students and staff members,” Benson said.
Dent said that students often would tell his wife, “you are the blackest white person I know.”
Stoppa-Dent retired from the school system in 2012 when she was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer.
Dent said that like everything else she was involved in, his wife did her homework and worked to fight the cancer as soon as she got the diagnosis.
Her strength and determination helped her along. She was given six months to live and surpassed it, Dent said. The whole time, he said, his wife of 28 years stayed strong and many wouldn’t have noticed she was sick by looking at her.
Her battle lasted 18 months, Dent said.
The Westlake cheerleading squad put together a tribute for their former coach that will be performed during the halftime show at the McDonough at Westlake varsity football game at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Dent said that cheerleaders his wife coached over the years would be at the performance.
Dent said his wife pushed her students to be better at everything they wanted to do and helped them see potentials that they might not have seen in themselves. He said she was like that with everyone she met.
“She was magnificent, a good person,” Dent said.